Ski Touring, mountaineering, climbing, coffee and living in the Coast Range of British Columbia.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Mt. Habrich, Sky Pilot and Co Pilot link-up AKA the Sea To Sky Gondola Triple Crown

I got to spend an entire day in the mountains on Friday and it was grand. After working a lot lately and spending last weekend helping Erin with her flower stand at the farmers market and Ryan roof his house in between the monsoons, I was ravenous for a nice big day in the mountains. Luckily, I knew just what to do - wake up in the wee hours, fuel up with a couple of Howes blend espressos and head out on a journey up to the sea to sky alpine country that's been on my mind a while. This was the one day of decent weather all week so I exercised the 'let my people go surfing' philosophy and took the day off!
With the gondola opening at 10am! (seriously, we want early starts people!), a from the road approach was needed. I bolted awake at 330 because I could barely sleep anyway and busted up a strange hybrid of the S2S and Evac trails which worked well and I was at the top station by just after 5.

The sun was coming up now and the mountains started to wake up with splashes of orange, azure and chrome.

I hadn't been up the NW side of Mt. Habrich before but I had the benefit of an examination of it while on rappel after climbing another route on the S face previous. I approached it with an open mind and didn't encounter any trouble on the way to the summit, my preference was for bomber rock over vertical bushwhacking so I think I did a hybrid of the Colin Haley expressway and the route escape velocity, with a move or two of easy 5th class here and there to surmount the walls between ledges. Was at the summit 3hr and 15m after leaving the car. Habrichs summit is a real climbers summit and is pointy and windy, pretty damn cool.

The SE face, originally I wanted to go up this way and do the traverse in the opposite direction but I have heard enough reports of the climbing on the side being harder for a solo trip that I opted for the familiar terrain instead. You can see 'the brain', which is the local name for the dome shaped feature in photo left which has caused routefinding issues for folks in the past. There are fixed lines down a gulley/bench system skiers left now and its a piece of cake.

A lot of work has been done on the 'Skyline Trail' by locals I am guessing. There is good trail and/or cairns starting underneath the S Face of Habrich and going all the way to Sky Pilot where it branches low to get to the upper reaches of the Shannon Creek trail or you can go up, off trail to get to the upper stadium glacier.

Gunsight Gap, no trail here but easy going.

Super cool and moody ambience .

Looking back at the ridge, got to be a top 5 hike for me in itself, without all the nifty summits. You can hike this whole thing (skyline Trail) without any scrambling if you don't do the summits.

The July 15/2016 state of the Stadium Glacier. I had approach shoes and a ski pole and that was all I needed.

Summit of Sky Pilot, about 6 hrs and 25 min to here from highway.

The snow field on Sky Pilot had this kind of 'in awe' expression with the open mouth but no eyes.

Summit selfie on Co-Pilot in the mist.

Looking back at Sky Pilot, so cool.

I stravassholed the entire day. This was the read out on top of co-pilot, it took another hour or so to get back down to the lodge where I double-fisted a coffee and a nice lager, which was yet another highlight, by then it had cleared and I could look out across the ocean scheming of other similar S2S missions. Erin even joined me for a sweet plate of french fries.

Bringing a fresh pair of your newest and cushiest socks for the descent down the trail is a real luxury and about as beaujolais as it gets. The other thing is tunes, pretty styly to cruise back down the trail listening to the grateful dead in your cushy socks.

What a great day, highly recommended for a good but not to long/hard day in the mountains. The super cool and complete traverse would take Al's Habrich trail and finish down Goat Ridge and into Murrin park...This would be pretty awesome but would take away the beer/coffee combo while looking out over the ocean and wondering what to watch on tv that night.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Gathered Rumour.

"There I lay staring upward, while the stars wheeled over...Faint to my ears came the gathered rumour of all lands: the springing and the dying, the song and the weeping, and the slow everlasting groan of overburdened stone."
- Tolkien

Friday, May 06, 2016

Thats a wrap!

Well that's it! What a great season of ski-touring on the South Coast and in BC in general, just so good. Personally, one of the best seasons of skiing I have ever had and the conditions were only part of it. Partners this season were plentiful and motivated, laughter abounded and many 'Ive always wanted to do that!" trips were achieved.

As the season comes to an end and motivations for climbing sunny granite or tail whipping the bike through the shady forest on perfect loam grow stronger, the odd trip plan pulls the skis out of the moth balls but for the most part, I am very content to wrap it up, a feeling I don't normally have in the late spring, an indication of a terrific season I think.

I thought I would share some of the highlights of the last few weeks, as you may have noticed, I didn't do many posts this season. The skiing was just too good and plentiful, I would typically wake up early, make espresso, walk our very energetic dog in the darkness of morning, drive to the approach, ski all day and get home in the dark, gear barely drying for the next days adventures. So went my weekly two days off as well as the normal mid week dawn patrol missions and of course,  the occasional work week day of PD :-).  House improvements and other normal life stuff took a back burner and Erin was incredibly understanding with my pursuits after two seasons of way too much of that stuff due to slow winters and low-tide.

Joffre and Matier:

I tried the triple crown two times this year (Joffre, Matier, Slalok) but was denied both times. However on one trip we were able to ski Matiers NE face in boot top blower and I have to say it was one of the best pitches of skiing I have ever done, which overshadowed the T crown and I still makes me good and giddy and smiley when I think of it..

As I mentioned, partners were awesome this year. Felix and Sarah being great.

About to drop in....SO GOOD!

Currie Zone:

4 days skiing lines behind Currie were outstanding and needed after a long work stint. We skied lines and from summits every day with perfect weather. Traveling light and camping in the mega light, we could cover lots of terrain and enjoy the travel.

Mt. Mamquam:

Chris and I had one of my favorite ski days I've had on Mt. Mamquam. An easy drive, hike through old growth and perfect conditions traveling through the complex icefield and to a pointy super-cool summit, all topped off with a 1000m corn run to treeline and cold beers in the creek. Nothing steep or Xtreme but a very classy peak and one I look at almost every day from town.

II want to thank my partners first and foremost for such an awesome season. Till next year!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A week in Sentry

Just arrived home from a great week with some friends new and old at Sentry Lodge, part of the fabled Golden Alpine Holidays tenure. I can honestly say that it was one of the best weeks of skiing I've had in terms of conditions had and more important, company.

A group assembled from Canada, the US and France. Tied together by work associations, mutual friends and a shared love of skiing, we all left the trip as friends.

We had storm days with over the head powder skiing, days where we could push the boat out into the alpine and days somewhere in between that. Nights were spent noshing on great food and spirits, laughing and telling stories and jokes, saunaing, prepping for the next day and just enjoying the surroundings and company of good folk.

I happened to be with about 50% of my work colleagues who are more then just that, they are also close friends and skiing and climbing partners, we have history before working together. One of the things that struck me from this trip is how much I appreciate their company and friendship and how grateful I am to work with and be around such good friends and people.

I'll let the pictures do the talking from here....